Kaizer Chiefs rocked by 31 COVID-19 cases, appeal to PSL for postponements

Gustavo Paez of Kaizer Chiefs challenged by Lesenya Ramoraka of Highlands Park Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

South African football giants Kaizer Chiefs have reported 31 cases of COVID-19 in their camp, and have appealed to the Premier Soccer League to postpone five of their upcoming fixtures.

Chiefs, who are based in Gauteng province where the omicron variant is surging the highest, have closed their Naturena base as a result of the heavy caseload, and say they do not have enough players or technical staff to compete in their upcoming DSTV Premiership fixtures.

Chiefs wrote in a statement on Friday morning: "The Club has written to the Premier Soccer League to request for a postponement of the five upcoming games in December against Cape Town City (4 December), Golden Arrows (8 December), Sekhukhune FC (12 December), Royal AM (19 December) and Maritzburg United (22 December) to avoid risk of infection and further spread of the virus and allow those affected to recover and complete their quarantine period before they can play against other teams.

"We view this as a case of force majeure as what the Club is experiencing as a consequence of COVID and the protocols it is obliged to implement, is total beyond the control of the Club.

"The Club does not at the moment have sufficient players nor technical team to constitute a team. We have appealed to the League to seriously consider the matter for the sake of everyone's health and safety because there are many other people involved in organising a game."

At the time of writing, the PSL had not yet responded to the request.

South Africa's sporting fixtures have been hard hit by the arrival of a fourth wave of the coronavirus, driven heavily by the newly-discovered omicron variant, which South African scientists alerted the world to in late November.

Rugby matches featuring European sides from the UK, Ireland, and Italy had to be cancelled, with some teams struggling to leave the country as flights out of SA to the UK were suspended. As such, South Africa's sides competing in the United Rugby Championship are now unsure about how they will continue to compete in the URC.

Golf tournaments have also been affected, with the Joburg Open cut to three days, and the South African Open, currently on the go at Sun City, being reduced to a South Africans-only field. The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship was cancelled entirely.

South Africa's COVID-19 positivity rate has skyrocketed, going from under 5% two weeks ago to 22.4% on Friday, with 11,535 new cases overnight compared to the less than 1000 a day two weeks ago.